2670, Kennedy Ave., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Clifton School is a late 19th century school with an early 20th century addition. Located in northeast Baltimore just west of the former Johns Hopkins estate, Clifton (now Clifton Park), the school lies on a site which slopes gently down from north to south. Its materials, scale, and volume are all very similar to the nearby residences, but unlike the adjacent rowhouses it is a detached building. It combines a gable-roofed, T-plan, brick county school built in 1882 with a Colonial Revival, flat-roofed, rectangular-plan, brick city school addition built in 1915. The structure is now approximately ten bays wide and eight bays long. Stylistic details occur mainly on the southeast elevation and include a pavilion with truncated corners, a wood frontispiece door, brick belt courses, and 9/9 wood double-hung windows with subsills and segmental arches. The interior consists of simple detailed rooms with wood or vinyl-asbestos tile floors, plaster walls, and pressed metal ceilings.
The Clifton School is significant to Baltimore for its association with a difficult period in the expansion of the city’s public school system. The upheaval followed the city’s annexation in 1888 of 26 square miles of Baltimore County. The transferral of Clifton (built in 1882) along with about 15 other county schools forced Baltimore to first adapt these schools to their system and to serve a much larger area. The grade levels had to be divided by sex (they were already divided by race); the teachers had to be evaluated; and most of the buildings had to be repaired or replaced. Later population expansion in the 26 square miles of annexed area forced the construction of new schools or—as in the case of Clifton in 1915---the expansion of existing ones. Since the annex schools had been poorly built and maintained, most of them were eventually replaced, and thus Clifton is a rare survivor of this significant epoch in the city school system.